What did a landing page and a Google ad have in common? Fresh leads. Revenue. How about a way to beat the competition? Those days have likely come to an end for Internet marketers because now Google AdWords implements information harvesting ban to virtually shut down Internet marketers using AdWords to collect consumer information. This is a big blow to the Internet marketing community. Many website owners make their money or living from the ads that capture click-throughs and bring consumers to a landing page designed to capture leads. If you are running AdWords, know that Google is ready to throw the book at you, literally, to make you stop and play by the new rules.
What is Information Harvesting?
This is the catchy little term that Google is now using to stab Internet marketers in the back. According to Google, Information harvesting is extracting personally identifiable information from visitors to a website. That’s right. Google is going for the throat and bypassing the landing page. A snapshot is now taken of your entire website if you are running AdWords to collect user data. Unless you are selling a product or service, you are no longer allowed to collect user information in exchange for some type of free gift, incentive, prize, bonus, e-book, survey results or a video.
Nice one, Google!
How to Get Around the New Information Harvesting Rules
First the Panda, then the Penguin and now AdWords is kicking everyone when they are down. There is a small glimmer of hope though. Websites that currently use landing pages, web forms or other online ways to get user information can be modified to accept the new changes.
Possible Way #1:
Don’t give away anything for free in exchange for a user’s personal information. Yes, email addresses are considered personal information to Google now. We have not tested it yet, but theoretically you could put a small charge on something that you used to give away for free. Something such as $.01, $.50 or even a buck. You could group a bunch of downloadable items together if you want. You just can’t do the freebie thing anymore and say “enter your email to subscribe” or Google will terminate your Adwords account.
Possible Way #2:
You can restructure your lead generation website or landing page to be a membership site. It’s perfectly fine to collect user information that is used for a membership website. All transactions must go through a secure merchant account to protect submitted information. The pricing is up to you although you have to charge something. One-time payment, monthly payment or annual payments usually work the best for a subscription website. AdWords is a big help for generating user traffic to subscription websites so you should have no problem adhering to the new terms of service.
What to Do if Google Shuts Down Your Adwords Account?
If you received the death notice from AdWords that your account has in some way violated the terms of service, there are some ways that you can fight back and keep your account from being terminated. Google allows a re-review of your website or domains that are linked to your account. You must integrate the new changes listed above before your website can be reviewed. Google will search your website for the changes and agree or disagree to restore your account. Most of the time, a re-review request can be approved when the changes are made.